by: zillie
pairings: 1+2, 3+4, 5+Meiran, S+S, 13+D
category: AU fantasyish
notes: first of all, for aesthetic reasons I have decided to divide part one, entitled odin, into two parts, yet still consider them as one part of the fic.
second: this fic, especially this part of it, seems to want to focus quite a bit on non-pilot characters, especially Sylvia Noventa. There is plenty of pilot stuff coming up, so please stick around.
third: I was sitting at my computer trying to justify all the underage sex that was happening in this fic; I told myself that this society is rather fuedal, and therefore sex happened earlier; I even quoted shakespeare to myself (romeo and juliet: paris tells capulet that women of juliet's age (fourteen) are frequently happy mothers) but it really wasn't working for me. It's not so much the underage prostitution; I simply cannot stand the idea of an actual sexual relationship happening before one is a teenager. Actually, under sixteen I just find disturbing. So: i have decided to throw continuity out the window and bump all the characters up a few years in age. So consider them to be, for the most part, seventeen-- instead of fifteen--with some variation around that number (Zechs, Sally, Noin, Solo are all older, for example). I really don't think that this makes a lot of difference to the story, but it gives me more room to play with Sylvia/Solo/Duo/Trio's background.
fourth: that is one heck of a big 'notes.' fic now, talk later.
oh, just one more thing: feedback: <sits up and begs pretty pretty please with a duo on top?

Journey in Blue
Part 1: Odin

They fought in the mornings, twisting around each other with a deadly familiarity, bearing knives or swords or simply the friendly malice of their bare hands. They fought with honor sometimes, with teeth others, in a parody of the way they battled at night. In the nights, he thought as he circled his lover with deadly intent, there was something missing -- as if the only light that showed him a Duo he could touch was the variable moonlight. Because during the days there was only the laughing thief, and in the mornings there was only the fighter. Every morning as they journeyed closer to the land of his birth, they fought. And every morning when they fought Heero found himself the prizeless victor.

+

"You do not respect me as a warrior."

Duo rubbed his sore ass; Heero had dropped him on it just a minute ago. Again. "I sure as hell do. I think my bruises can attest to that."

Heero's eyes were cold. "If you respected me you would not let me win."

Duo stopped still. "Let you win?"

"I have seen you fight," Heero hissed. "You think I believe this?"

Duo rolled his eyes and flopped back. "You're the one who wants to fight. We all know what I'd rather be doing." He sent Heero a lascivious grin. "Some of us have to save a little energy for later."

Heero forced his hand to loosen on the hilt of his sword. "When we arrive in Odin we will fight," he said quietly. "And we will be watched. Do not shame me in front of my people with these dishonest victories."

Duo made a face at the other boy. "Of course not, Lord Heero. Never, Lord Heero."

Heero said nothing.

Duo rose with a wince and bowed mockingly. "Now, if Lord Heero will excuse me, I'm off to wash." His eyes went hazy. "I'll be naked. In case you were wondering."

Heero's hand tightened again.

+

She was almost getting used to the way that rooms went silent when she walked in. Good thing I've found another line of work, she thought as she lifted her head and pretended not to notice. This kind of attention could be bad for a thief.

"Lady Sylvia." The princess smiled warmly at her; ignoring the alarm that still swept through her whenever anyone used her birth name, Sylvia swept a curtsey. "Please, join us."

The girl once known as the Poet curtseyed again and took her seat.

Beside her, Lady Catherine and Lady Meiran chatted; Hilde entertained the lady of the house while Relena politely listened to her husband, a baron who was obviously thunderstruck at the idea of entertaining the crown princess.

Gods be willing, his future queen.

Right then he was flattering Relena; "you travel so light, your highness!" he proclaimed. "With only your ladies!"

Relena smiled politely. "We travel fast; and, indeed, my father sent guards with us."

"But even if you travel in secret, you are in truth so pretty that no thief could resist!"

Sylvia tried very hard not to roll her eyes.

She started as something crawled into her lap; Catherine looked over. "Oh, I'm sorry," she said, reaching for the errant lion cub. "She will be restless."

Sylvia stayed her hand. "It's no bother."

Catherine regarded her for a second, then smiled. "If you're sure."

Sylvia nodded. "I'm sure. She's lovely." She gently removed the cub's claws from her dress.

Catherine, somewhat awkwardly, nodded back. The other girl -- who was, Sylvia had long since realized, the most sheltered of them all -- seemed not to know what to say to the whore-turned-Clan Heir. Sylvia could not blame her; she never knew what to say to herself either. Her hand rose to her neck of its own volition to touch the chain she wore under the strangely soft dress. "Lady Noventa," Catherine said, finally, and Sylvia again had to suppress a start.

"Sylvia, please," she said. Not for the first time.

Catherine smiled politely, taking no notice, and leaned forward. "Have you heard from. . . your cousin?"

She wondered how Catherine thought she would have -- if the other girl thought there was some kind of special thief-mail they could use. "I fear, milady, that he is not skilled in correspondence. I have not received any news of him other than the note that came with the reports for her highness." The note had been simple and brief; she had passed it around, knowing that not a single one of them would understand it. She thought that Relena at least had seen the secondary message hidden somewhat clumsily within the note, but she was convinced that the third and fourth messages -- the last one conveyed by nothing more than the way Duo had chosen to shape his letters -- had been understood by her alone. Not that they told her much. Except that Duo was still angry with Solo, and that he sought contact with their leader.

Catherine nodded, obviously trying not to look too disappointed. The girl, Sylvia noted dispassionately, would not have made it a day on the streets. "I simply. . . thank you."

"I am sure, however, that if there was any kind of problem, my cousin would have informed me."

"You must think me silly."

She did at that. "Of course not."

"Have you any brothers, Lady Sylvia? Any," and here she blushed but continued speaking. "Any children?

"My parents have no children but me, and no grandchildren at all," Sylvia said, torn between amusement and offense.

Catherine clutched her handkerchief, leaning forward a bit. "Have you no one who you worry about? Who you love like a brother, or a child?"

His eyes, bright as gods, flashed in her mind; "Aye, and I have my family back in the city," she said, and then silently cursed herself. That was not how Lady Sylvia, Clan Heir, spoke.

"Tell me about them," Catherine said impulsively.

Homesickness, like nausea, swept through her; she closed her eyes, not sure of what to say.

+

She had been twelve years old when she had first ventured onto the streets. Despite the lessons her grandfather had given her in secret over the past few months, she knew nothing. But she was a child, and did not realize the depths of her stupidity until after she had lost her money to thieves, her shoes to bullies, and her heart to the boy who had rescued her before her virtue could be lost as well.

At home, at court she had been a child; on the streets, at twelve, she was old enough for things her peers at court would find unspeakable. She was expected to support herself one way or another; she was fair game for the sexual predators of the city.

But there was her family. There was Duo, who had been there when she had been saved. He was fast with a smile and faster with a heavy purse, and before long she had realized how much of himself he kept hidden. He had come across her while she was scribbling some of the poetry she had been named for; instead of laughing or, worse, patronizing, he had read it thoughtfully. And understood it. Poe, as he called her, could sit with Duo for hours -- she had been trying to figure him out for years. As yet there had been only a limited amount of success.

Zika had been like her sister; the slightly younger, much tougher girl had taught her how to fend off advances, how to flirt, how to be a girl without having to be a lady. Mace, who sang like an angel and swore like the sailor's son he was. Daffy, who could fake being crippled better than anyone else Sylvia had ever met. Bloody, who was in all ways her brother despite -- or perhaps because of -- the fact that they could not be a room together without fighting over something. Grundy, who was a little overfond of women and drink but still one of the nicest girls Sylvia knew. And there was Solo.

When she had been eleven and had fallen under the fists of a rapacious soldier on his off day, she had closed her eyes and waited for the worst. Instead she had found Solo; when she managed to open her eyes, he stood over her. "You're a bloody idiot," he said.

Duo had popped up behind him. "Aye and he's right," he said, offering a hand. She had taken it, not sure if luck or fate had led her right to where she needed to be. She had not spared a glance for the soldier lying dead on the ground.

"You new?" Solo had asked.

"Aye and that's right." She had glared fiercely at him. "Got bored of the people who were keeping me and ran away to the city."

"You have a stable?"

She had blinked, not understanding the question.

"You got anybody here?" Duo had explained. "Any family? A pimp?"

"Aye and I'm no whore," she had hissed.

Solo -- who at the time could not have been more than fifteen, probably just barely that -- had looked her over with cynical eyes. "Not yet."

She had swung at him. He caught her hand easily and pulled her against his body. "Aye and I'd pay for her," he'd tossed over his shoulder to Duo. "Not much, but I'd pay."

Duo had pouted, leaning against Solo and reaching out to touch her dirty hair. "Tired of me already?"

"Aye and someone had better be," the older boy had retorted. "You can't have everyone in the city in love with you."

And something had flashed in Duo's eyes, there, that had made the girl stiffen. Solo had felt it, had studied her.

"Aye and maybe I should charge you for the looking," she had snapped, thoroughly uneasy. This was not how she had expected it to be; for one thing, the long haired boy wasn't supposed to send chills up her spine. For another. . .. She jerked her chin up. "At this point it'd be enough to keep me for a month."

Solo laughed again. "You ain't all that much to look at." Still he held her, examining her with his eyes. "You'll do, though."

Duo had laughed; she had felt dizzy when Solo released her, moving away. "Do for what?" she had asked.

Duo had dropped an arm companionably around her shoulder. "Do for us. We're taking you home."

And they had.

+

"There's not all that much to tell, milady," she said politely. At least not in this setting. "Perhaps I can think of some stories to tell you later."

Catherine nodded. "Of course. I look forward to it." She smiled. "I do hope that they're doing all right back in Miyako."

Sylvia nodded. "Indeed. I hope so as well."

+

Dorothy, duchess of Catalonia, was in bed when the news came that the Queen was experiencing back pains. Dorothy merely rolled her eyes. She'd been back from Sanc for only two days and she already knew that the queen experienced something every night.

The man beside her was not so calm. "What do back pains mean?" he asked the servant who had come to wake him up.

"Probably nothing, your majesty," the woman said, keeping her eyes on the floor and not on the naked Treize Kushrenada. Or his mistress.

"But they could mean something," he fretted.

"Yes, and so could last night's headache, and the nausea the night before, and from what I hear the night before that she called for you when she sneezed," Dorothy said.

Treize nodded to the servant. "Thank you. Inform the queen I will attend her shortly."

Dorothy sighed and flopped back against the pillows. "The girl lacks a bit in the brains department."

"Yes, but she makes up for that with her name," Treize said, leaning over to kiss her. "How many brides bring a man a kingdom?"

"I certainly would not have," Dorothy said.

"Pray that this child is a son," Treize told her, sitting up and pulling on pants. "A son to quiet all those who would see Trowa on the throne now, and in another year a son for insurance."

Dorothy sat up, letting the sheets fall away from her smooth body. "And a year after that?"

He slid a hand possessively over her breasts. "Who knows?"

She rolled, pinning him to the bed beneath her. "I know."

He smiled lazily up at her. "Do you seek a crown, cousin?"

She reached down, opening his trousers and taking him into her hand. "I hold a crown, my lord. Right here." She kissed him, deeply.

"You are worth two of my wife," he said breathlessly a minute later. "I would make a queen of you."

She laughed and rolled off of him. "Queen or not -- I do not care. I seek what I have always sought, my lord."

He rose, fastening his pants again. "I seek it as well."

"And when you find it I will wield it for you," she promised, her eyes sparkling as she lay sprawled in his bed. She reached out again, her hand stopping just shy of his crotch. "I who have always served you well."

He leaned forward, pressing into her hand for a second, and then was gone to minister to the brat-queen. Dorothy stayed behind, her naked body exposed to the air, her hands twitching at the thought of the Weapon.

+

Duo's friends were not entirely what Sally Po had been expecting. She had not expected the girl, Zika, to be afraid of the soldiers; she had not expected the boy Mace to be so young. She had not anticipated Daffy to be crippled, nor Grundy to be a drunk. And most of all she had not expected that a boy who went by the name `Bloody' would be so very interested in politics. But, three days after they had come to the palace, she looked up to see him standing at the back of the king's audience chamber. Again.

She quietly stepped down from the dais and made her way to the back of the room. "I thought you had lessons now."

The boy didn't take his eyes off the king. "He's making a bit of a mistake, ain't he?" he whispered eagerly.

Sally looked up. The king was listening to the story of one merchant suspected of accepting stolen goods from the Reberba. Lucrezia Noin sat on his left, Zechs Marquise on his right. The faces of the two men, as they dispensed justice, were disturbingly alike. "In fact I believe you're missing an elocution lesson as we speak."

"Is he going to pardon him?" Bloody asked.

Sally Po glanced again at the defendant; the poor man was sweating copiously. "I believe the merchant has sworn that he knew nothing about the goods. That he received them from his wife's brother innocently."

Bloody snorted. "Aye, sure and he did. As if his wife or her family would be bothered with him."

Sally looked at him sharply. "You're know this man?"

"Aye. Robbed his shop once. Bit of a complication because his wife was going at it with the clerk. He found out a bit later and chucked her out. Sent her home to her family for a `visit,' and had himself a new girl within two weeks." He sneered at the man. "He's been known to visit my friend Yra. He's also been known to lose control of his tongue when he's a bit drunk."

"So you're saying this man is a liar?"

Bloody looked at her, obviously considering the question stupid. "Aye, and he's a merchant, ain't he? Of course he's a liar." He shrugged and turned his attention back to the king. "All I'm saying is the king's making a mistake and a half if he believes that Jaira -- his wife -- would send him anything."

Sally pursed her lips. "You," she said, "are missing your elocution lesson." She ignored the smirk that appeared on his face and turned back to the dais, feeling sick.

In her mind she could feel the missing Weapon like a hole in the country.

+

"Your highness, may I present our children? My heir, Antonio. Our son Vittorio. And our daughter, Beatrice-Johanna."

Relena smiled and inclined her head. "A pleasure." She remembered them -- the boys, at least. Antonio was innocuous enough; she wasn't sure what kind of a leader he would be. She was fairly sure that the Baron de Flores knew that his had been one of the names considered when the Reberba holding had needed filling; she wasn't sure if he knew that one of the reasons the Noventa family had been chosen instead was Antonio. The current de Flores baron would have been at least as good a Clan Leader as Lady Sylvia's father, perhaps better. But when the time came for Relena to take the throne, she would much prefer to have Sylvia at her side. Antonio had a certain weakness of character that was manifest in his lack of personality.

Vittorio, on the other hand, was not boring. No. He was
simply annoying, and juvenile, and Relena was slight shamed by the realization that she still had not forgiven him for putting worms in her bed when she had been six. She made a point of smiling warmly at him as he flattered her eyebrows.

Sylvia Noventa would be a good Clan Leader. Relena was sure of this. Her only fear was that by the time she and her peace children came to power there would be no kingdom for them to call home.

+

They crossed into Odin lands on the fifth day of their journey, having made it through a strip of Marquise lands in only a day and a half. Heero had felt a sense of peace come over him as soon as they crossed the river that marked the border; they had three more days to go before they reached his father's house, but he was home.

They camped near a small copse of trees, and, as Duo and Trowa cared for the tired horses and Quatre began to fuss with the pathetic rations that would be that night's meal, Heero invited Wufei to spar with him.

As he and the Dragon circled each other warily, he felt a strength in his body that was almost surprising; the last time he had fought on Odin lands he had not been this strong. The world seemed to move in patterns: he could see every possible movement, every muscle shift that betrayed the Dragon's next move. His skin felt like it was merely a layer over a body made of power. He shut his eyes as a defense against the sensations that threatened to overpower him; it made no difference. He could feel in every wisp of air that swept across his body what Wufei was doing, and, eyes still shut, he lunged forward and disarmed the other boy. His heart beat normally; his breath was slow and steady. And he felt like he had just had an orgasm.

He opened his eyes.

Wufei was watching him with something akin to awe -- or, perhaps, fear.

Heero bowed and sheathed his sword. The blood in his veins felt like -- he blinked. Bowed again. Kept bowing and didn't stop until the ground hit him in the face.

[cont]